Working Paper

Re-casting Societies in Conflict

Published 1 January 2005 / By Nicholas Van Hear

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Complex forced migration crises of the last 15 years have unfolded against the background of substantial shifts in the humanitarian discourse and in the wider geo-political order-indeed they have contributed to these changes. Associated with this new configuration have been new thrusts in several fields of policy and practice that relate to forced migration-including development, humanitarian action, migration management and security. A new concern with weak, fragile, failing and collapsed states that confound development, breed conflict, generate humanitarian emergencies and forced migration, and spawn security problems, crime and terrorism has provided the impetus to bring together these diverse fields. The upshot has been that an interpenetration of policy fields addressing security, migration management, humanitarian action and development has occurred. The new approach to conflict and post conflict societies is decidedly interventionist in character. The paper explores how societies in or emerging from conflict have been re-cast in the interpenetrating fields and discourses. In the new perspective, conflict and displacement are seen not only as destructive, but as holding the potential for the transformation of the economy and society. The paper asks what the outcome will be of the interpenetration of policy fields and the recasting of conflict-torn societies. Will these policy changes make life better for forced migrants and other people affected by conflict?


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